Here in Pennsylvania, we figured our state legislature had gerrymandered us out of having any interesting Congressional races until 2020. In particular, you’d expect Rep. Bill Shuster of the ninth district to be safe. He’s a Republican in the state’s most Republican district. He’s chairman of the Transportation committee, following in the footsteps of his father, who has half the highways in the area (including an Interstate highway that violates the usual numbering scheme) named after him.
Into each Congressional career, though, some scandal must fall. Since last summer, Rep. Shuster has been dating Shelley Rubino, a lobbyist for the airlines’ trade association. He insists he is going above and beyond House ethics rules in the matter, and there’s no evidence the relationship started before Rep. Shuster’s divorce last year. Still, it looks bad.
Rep. Shuster was never as safe as his committee chairmanship and name would suggest. He’s a relative moderate in a conservative district, and came into his office under unusual circumstances (his father resigned in 2001, setting up a special election, instead of retiring at the end of his term). He barely survived a primary challenge in 2004, and only got 53% of the vote against two candidates in the 2014 primary. He may be about to face his strongest opponent yet in Tom Smith, a coal company executive. Smith has name recognition (he was the nominee to challenge Sen. Bob Casey in 2012 and carried all but one of the counties in the district), the wealth to self-fund a campaign, and serves on the board of directors of the Commonwealth Foundation, one of Pennsylvania’s leading conservative think tanks.
The biggest problem for Smith is that he doesn’t live in the district- he lives in Armstrong County, just west of the district’s northwest corner. It’s unlikely either that Shuster will decline to run for re-election next year, or that he’ll avoid a challenger even if Smith doesn’t run. In what ought to be a safe district for any Republican incumbent, we might be seeing the marquee race of next year’s primary season emerge.
As anyone who knows my fashion sense would know, I’m straight. As anyone who has seen me dance would know, I’m white. As anyone who has attempted to get me to respond to hints would know, I’m a guy. This makes me obsolete, without any place in the currently fashionable identity politics.
Riding to my rescue comes James St. James, a writer for Everyday Feminism (h/t National Review). You’d think he’d focus on how society discriminates against people with repetitive names, which tragically drove Sirhan Sirhan to a life of crime and threatens the political career of Chris Christie. (I nominate Phillip Phillips as their celebrity spokesman.) No, instead, it focuses on getting extroverts to check the privilege they supposedly have over introverts.
Finally, my membership card in the Coalition of the Oppressed was punched. You see, growing up, I had to raise my hand occasionally at the family dinner table to get a word in between my chattery father and sister. I’ve had to reassure my girlfriend several times that she doesn’t need to worry when I don’t say much. If I had written the Golden Rule, it would go something like, “Bother other people not, as you would not wish to be bothered.”
- would rather risk making small talk with your roommate’s guests than go hungry if you need to cross the house to make a sandwich;
- don’t take ridiculously long to shop because you’re too frightened of the store employees to ask one of the employees where something is; or
- keep bumping into people because you walk close to walls and buildings.
I realized I don’t meet either of those criteria. I’m not the most outgoing guy, but I’m willing to put up with a little small talk to get food or prevent a shopping trip from taking all evening (Hey, I did say I’m a guy). I’m not even sure running the risk of bumping into people is truly the mark of an introvert, because if you bump into somebody, you have to apologize to him- and sometimes even make eye contact. (Eww.) Reading the article, though, it’s apparent that I’m a traitor to my people. An Intro-Tom. I’m holed up in Uncle Tom’s Cabin reading a book while everyone else is outside chatting (Come to think of it, having a secret that you just can’t tell is pretty introverted).
So, it’s back to the drawing board. Look, I know the Left is always on the hunt for new victim groups, but I don’t want to scrutinize every personality quirk for some new reason to need Hillary Clinton to save me next November.
I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands.
PHILADELPHIA, July 25, 2016-
JD: There seems to be quite of a bit of excitement heading into the convention this week.
DNC Spokesman: As we did eight years ago, Democrats are poised to break the glass ceiling yet again. We are on the cusp of a moment many of us thought we’d never see in our lifetimes- but just like eight years ago when President Obama took office, history will be made next January when John Edwards becomes our first openly gay President.
JD: Yes, let’s talk about that. I think it’s safe to say that last spring, when Hillary Clinton was the frontrunner, few would have predicted this turn of events.
DNC spokesman: We will always appreciate Hillary Clinton’s service to this country as First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State.
JD: But certainly you have a comment on her emails which were released last November?
DNC spokesman: The primary voters made their decision, and we are committed to making Senator Edwards the next President of the United States.
JD: You don’t even have a reaction about the fact that those emails revealed that Sen. Bernie Sanders was spying for the Russians, forcing him to defect to Moscow shortly after winning the New Hampshire primary?
DNC spokesman: I’m not here to talk about the past.
JD: Well, the special election for Sanders’s Senate seat has become heated. Do you have any comment?
DNC spokesman: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are two of Vermont’s most respected businessmen, and I think the fact that they’re both so well-qualified is part of the reason this is a difficult decision for voters. I’m confident whoever emerges from the primary will do great things as the next United States Senator from the great state of Vermont.
JD: Fair enough. Recent polling shows that John Edwards will have an uphill climb against the Republican Rubio-Fiorina ticket. Senator Rubio is ahead in both his own state of Florida and Senator Edwards’s home state of North Carolina, and polls show dead heats in such Democratic-leaning states as Michigan and New Mexico. Do you think the scandals associated with Senator Edwards are having an effect on public opinion?
DNC spokesman: It’s unfortunate that the stress of living in the closet in our cis-tacular, hetero-riffic society led Senator Edwards to do some film producers- er, things he now regrets. But, you know, he’s out and proud now, and we’re focusing on the future and how Senator Edwards will build on the achievements of President Obama to lead our country into a new era.
JD: I’m pleased to be joined by a spokesman from the Republican National Committee. After two straight victories for President Obama, what does Marco Rubio have that might appeal to Obama voters?
RNC spokesman: Vowels.
JD: Good point. I note there have been some complications in the race to succeed Rubio in the Senate. Care to comment?
RNC spox: While we appreciate Colonel West’s passion for conservative principles and service to his country, and we understand that foreign policy is an emotional issue, particularly after the recent Russian invasion of Lithuania and nuclear test by Poland, biting your opponent’s head off in a debate is a complete violation of the decorum we expect from a United States Senator, and we were forced to ask him to step aside. Our thoughts and prayers are with Congressman Grayson’s family.
JD: Another key Senate race is right here in Pennsylvania. How do you plan to hold onto Pat Toomey’s seat?
RNC spokesman: We’ve anticipated a closely-fought race for some time. Admiral Sestak is a strong candidate with a distinguished military record. However, we are confident that, after the voters of Pennsylvania have considered Senator Toomey’s positions on the issues that matter most and his record, they will reward him with a second term.